An Oceanfront Victorian Beach House in New Jersey


When a native of the New Jersey shore purchased a late-1800s oceanfront Victorian home, he finally saw his childhood dreams come true. He had been admiring the home from afar since he was a kid, and wasted no time making big plans to update the dark, period-specific interiors in an effort to create the perfect pad for his large family—one that would accommodate their passion for entertaining. To bring his vision to life, the homeowners turned to architect Brian Brady and interior designer Franco Biscardi, co-owners of Southampton-based Brady Design, with a single request: bring the Hamptons’ casual elegance to the Jersey shore.

Luckily, Brady and Biscardi were uniquely up for the challenge; the duo’s residential portfolio is about as Hamptons as a day at the beach, with all of the area’s telltale design details present and accounted for (think cedar shingles, plenty of beadboard and heavy doses of blue and white). So, when the husband and wife spoke to them about their desire for a home that was welcoming and bright, they were able to dive right in. “Warming up very large spaces and breaking down oversize homes is a bit of a specialty for us,” says Biscardi. “This is an old historic home with a lot of integrity. We wanted to maintain that but make it lighter and more open.”

First on the agenda, Brady and Biscardi tackled the home’s large yet awkwardly configured kitchen and pantry, knocking down walls to create an open floor plan that even had enough space left over to carve out a charming breakfast nook. Peg Fruin, owner of Hampton Design, then crafted a kitchen that not only suited the homeowners’ joint passion for cooking and entertaining, but also mirrored the home’s overall style and original architecture. The coffered ceiling in the new kitchen was designed to reflect woodworking details found throughout the home, as was the clean, white Shaker-style cabinetry. “This is definitely a hub for them, a place where they gather and really spend time,” Fruin says. “We rearranged the space to allow for freer interaction between the kitchen and breakfast area.”

Creating a natural flow was also important throughout the rest of the interiors, especially considering the home’s extra-large footprint. To bring the rooms down to a more human scale and allow them to better relate to one another, the designers took great pains to create a cohesive color and material palette, repeating neutral and deep-blue shades, subtle patterns, rich textures, and eye-catching architectural details again and again. The living room, for example, features a trio of grid-patterned area rugs selected to mimic the pattern of the paneling in the adjacent entry hall. “The scale of the paneling was a little smaller, so it became a very interesting feature,” Brady says. “It is original to the home, and we loved the geometric pattern, so we painted it white to really allow it to pop.”

Such updated original details, together with a clever mix of furnishings—both new modern pieces and well-worn antiques—and an expertly curated contemporary art collection, succeed in breathing new life into the formerly dark and dated home. Plus, thanks to durable outdoor fabrics, which Biscardi introduced in each room, no space is off-limits to children or pets. The result is exactly the welcoming, family-friendly environment the homeowners had in mind when they embarked upon the project. “The idea was that you can have a grand house that’s not cold and uninviting,” Brady says. “This is a home for an extremely social family. The design is all about the way they live when they’re here.”